Brighter By Night

The Special Light of Teshuvah During Shovavim
By Rav Moshe Shternbuch

The following was written by Rabbi Daniel Yaakov Travis based on a drasha given on leil Shabbos by Rav Moshe Shternbuch, Rosh Av Beis Din of the Eidah Hachareidis of Yerushalayim. ••••• “Even though the shevatim were counted during their lifetime by name, they are counted again after death. This is to show the Almighty’s fondness for the Jewish people, who are compared to stars which are called to appear by name, as the posuk says, ‘He takes out his hosts by number and He calls all of them by name’” (Rashi, Shemos 1:1). What is the deeper meaning of the comparison between the Jewish people and the stars? Perhaps it is that the stars appear as tiny, distant dots in the night sky, yet in truth they are vast entities many times larger than the world around us. So too, the neshama of every Jew may appear insignificant to the untrained eye, and yet it is a vast entity, as is the reward the neshama will receive for the mitzvos it guides a person to perform. Just like each star has its own unique name, every Jew has his own unique purpose in this world that no one else can duplicate. Rav Elimelech of Lizhensk remarked, “When I get to Shomayim, they won’t ask me why I wasn’t the Baal Shem Tov. They will ask me, since I was Elimelech of Lizhensk, why wasn’t I Elimelech?” The parallel between Klal Yisroel and the stars becomes more relevant as we draw closer to the end of this long and bitter golus. During the daytime, the sun illuminates the world and no other light is visible. Starlight only appears at night when the entire world is dark.

As we travel deeper and deeper into the darkness of the golus, the light created by each mitzvah that a Jew performs appears brighter and more powerful. A mitzvah that in previous generations would not have been especially significant today fills the world with radiance. We now have the opportunity to reach great spiritual heights in a way that in previous generations would have been impossible.

repentance lights up his neshama and illuminates the world with the Almighty’s radiance. The Torah hints to this special process in the pasuk, “Mikrah kodesh, zecher l’yetzias Mitzrayim.” Mikrah kodesh, when we sanctify ourselves [through teshuvah], zecher l’yetzias Mitzrayim, is a hint to what happened in Mitzrayim,” where we lifted ourselves up from the depths of spiritual degradation.

Satmar Rov that this was definitely a possibility, but it was not his primary concern. He was much more worried that the Zionists would lure religious youth to join them through friendly means. These types of tactics are much more insidious and effective, and potentially had the ability to eradicate religious Jewry.

Even after Paroh started resorting to violence and cruelty, he still tried to offer logical political excuses for his reprehensible behavior. Paroh only decreed the murder of the male babies, who he claimed presented a potential military threat to his nation, but he graciously agreed to leave the female children unharmed. His ultimate plan was that the Egyptians would marry the remaining Jewish women, and this way he would effectively wipe out the Jewish people. In contrast to Paroh’s attempt to whitewash his true intentions,

The Torah writes that a new king arose who did not know Yosef. Rashi explains that Paroh was really the same king, yet he revised his decree. What was the nature of this gezeirah? Throughout our history, the Jews have been challenged by two types of challenges. At times, the nations are friendly to us and welcome us into their society - providing we drop our religious beliefs. During other periods, we were

The first six parshiyos of the Book of Shemos are commonly referred to as Shovavim, an acronym for Shemos, Va’eirah, Bo, Beshalach, Yisro and Mishpatim. These weeks, when we learn about the miracles of Yetzias Mitzrayim and the giving of the Torah, are a special time for teshuvah. What is the

By making the smallest opening in our heart for teshuvah, we take a significant step towards this exalted level.
connection between the themes of these parshiyos and teshuvah? When the Jewish people initially came to Mitzrayim, we were under the leadership of Yaakov Avinu. He made sure that we remained a separate nation and did not assimilate with the Egyptians. Yaakov’s guidance imbued us with the spiritual fortitude and protected us from the negative influences of our surrounding environment. However, after Yaakov’s death, the Jewish people experienced a rapid fall, until we reached the 49th level of impurity. Had we continued to fall, we would have reached the point of no return. The Almighty took us out of Mitzrayim and propelled us on an upward ascent until we received the Torah on Har Sinai. The route that we traveled when leaving Mitzrayim is a process that every Jew faces when doing teshuvah. Even if he has fallen to the lowest level of impurity, he can still pick himself up and aim for the highest levels of holiness. True persecuted and tortured for being Jewish. Paroh adopted both of these strategies. Initially, he decreed that Klal Yisroel should be invited to mingle with the people of Mitzrayim, but the Jewish people resisted this temptation and remained aloof. When Paroh saw that his plan had not borne fruit, he changed tacks and was gozer backbreaking labor. This type of two-pronged strategy continues to be repeated to this day. When the State of Israel was first founded, the Satmar Rov and the Chazon Ish discussed how this would affect the future of Torah Judaism. The Satmar Rov feared that the Zionist drive towards a socialist state was so strong that they would institute one discriminatory decree after another, aiming to eradicate the Jewish character of the Land of Israel. The Chazon Ish agreed with the the Torah tells us that Shifrah and Puah acted in an opposite manner. These two righteous women single-handedly saved the Jewish people from annihilation. They were rewarded with batim, houses - descendants who were Kohanim and Leviim. One would think that such a valiant act would automatically receive a vast reward. Yet the Torah tells us that had they acted to receive honor and glory, they would not have received such a significant reward. Only because they acted out of fear of the Almighty were they compensated so immensely.

The Medrash writes that Moshe Rabbeinu made an agreement with his father-in-law, Yisro, that their first son would become a priest to avodah zarah. Amazingly enough, Moshe agreed to this stipulation.

Micha, the child of Moshe Rabbeinu’s firstborn son Gershom, latter became an idol worshiper. How could Yisro have made such an offer and how could Moshe Rabbeinu have accepted it? The purpose of this “deal” between this two great tzaddikim was certainly not that their offspring should actually worship idols. Yisro had come to the truth of Torah through a long intellectual search, and felt that this had strengthened his beliefs. He wanted at least one of his grandchildren to also follow in this path. Before the Almighty gave us the Torah which prohibited avodah zarah, Moshe Rabbeinu could agree to such a stipulation. However, belief based on philosophical proofs is not always strong and can easily be toppled by a clever argument. In truth, the highest level of trust in the Almighty is emunah peshutah, simple faith. The Yaavetz, one of the Rishonim who lived during the times of the Spanish Inquisition, writes that many of the Jews who built their belief systems on philosophical proofs succumbed during those difficult times. Those who had emunah peshutah, simple faith, were able to stand up to the challenges they faced. In today’s world, we do not face the terrible choice between giving up our beliefs or dying for them, boruch Hashem. Yet we must nonetheless strive to attain emunah peshutah and complete clarity regarding the reality of the Almighty’s existence in our everyday lives. By making the smallest opening in our heart for teshuvah, we take a significant step towards this exalted level. ••••• Rabbi Travis is a rosh kollel of Kollel Toras Chaim in Yerushalayim, and is the author of Shaylos U’Teshuvos Toras Chaim and “Praying With Joy - A Daily Tefilla Companion,” a practical daily guide to improving one’s prayers, available from Feldheim Publishers. For more information about his work, contact slavery,” refers to the physical enslavement. The first statement, “took us out from Mitzrayim,” refers to the spiritual enslavement. The Jews in Mitzrayim worked hard physically and came under the Egyptian culture’s influence. Although they did not change their names or their mother tongue, Lashon Hakodesh, they nevertheless absorbed some of the society’s secular concepts. This may be why only one-fifth of the Jews left Mitzrayim. The other 80% died during makkas choshech, unready to forsake the secular concepts that they had absorbed. The Egyptians enslaved the Jews and made their lives difficult. But the most difficult aspect, and what rendered the situation impossible, was their assigning women’s type of (Continued on Page 59) 29 Teves 5770 • January 15 2010

Slavery & Redemption
By Rabbi Nachum Eisenstein Lakewood, N.J.
“Lochein emor livnei Bnei Yisroel ani Hashem vehotzeisi eschem mitachas sivlos Mitzrayim vehitzalti eschem mei’avodasam vego’alti eschem bizroah netuyah uvishfatim gedolim. Velakachti eschem li le’am vehayisi lochem l’Eilohim viydatem ki ani Hashem Elokeichem hamotzie eschem mitachas sivlos Mitzrayim – Therefore, say to the Bnei Yisroel, “I am Hashem; and I shall take you out from under the burdens of Egypt; and I shall rescue you from their slavery; and I shall redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments. I shall take you to Me for a people and I shall be a G-d to you; and you shall know that I am Hashem your G-d, Who takes you out from under the burdens of Egypt” (Shemos 6:6-7). The posuk invokes four terms to describe our redemption from Egypt. Chazal instruct us on the night of Pesach to drink four cups of wine to reflect the four phases of our redemption. The meforshim explain that the Egyptian enslavement occurred on a double level, both physical and spiritual, to which we allude in Birkas Hamazon: “Hashem took us out of Egypt and redeemed us from the house of slavery.” The latter, “redeemed us from the house of

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